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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Mycota associated to native Hevea spp. in the Brazilian Amazon region

PI: Aristóteles Góes-Neto (Centro de Excelência em Bioinformática, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz--Fiocruz)
U.S. Partner: Priscila Chaverri (University of Maryland, College Park)
Project Dates: August 2013 to May 2016
This project expects to characterize the mycota associated to the socially important and economically valuable rubber trees in the Brazilian Amazon region. The project will focus on characterizing endophytic and saprophytic fungi that naturally occur in Brazil and compare to fungal diversity in another region of Amazon basin, the Peruvian Amazon region. The idea is to corroborate the hypothesis that suggest that fungal endophytes have coevolved with their host plants to protect them from natural enemies.
The endophytic fungi associated to native rubber trees occurring in the Brazilian Amazon region can be utilized in biological control of Microcyclus ulei, the agent of South American leaf blight which is the scourge rubber trees. This project can add more aggregated value to this important tree of Amazonian forests, reinforcing the necessity of avoiding the potential loss of useful biodiversity due to deforestation and expansion of agricultural and livestock breeding frontier in the Brazilian Amazon region.
Summary of Recent Activities
On September 30, 2014, the Brazilian Ministry of Science published in the Official Federal Government Journal the authorization for Dr. Góes-Neto and his U.S. partner to undertake joint collections in the three parks in the Amazon that are the primary focus of their study. The next field trips will occur between December 2014 and February 2015. Besides the joint field work, other planned activities in the coming months include collecting rubber tree samples at two of the study sites (Tapajós and Caxiuanã Parks), isolating and preserving fungal endophytes, and performing gDNA extraction, PCR, sequencing, and molecular identification of isolates. The PI and his group will also be carrying out phylogenetic analysis of data, including co-evolution (plant/fungal endophytes) and population genetic studies, and comparing genetic variability of the fungal isolates from the same/different plants in same/different localities. This work builds upon what they have accomplished in previous months of the project in purifying fungal strains, extracting and sequencing their genomic DNA, storing the sequences to the National Center for Biotechnology Information GenBank, and analyzing their data to determine the distribution of the various fungal genera and species collected.
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